It's Simple: Deliver What You Promise
This year was the nail in the coffin. As a musician and former employee of the performing arts, I want to love the Grammys. I really do. But this year, when they failed to deliver on a promise, I realized I’m done. All night long, an all-star “tribute” to Bob Marley was pitched, promoted and promised on air and via social media. What we got was two current pop stars singing their own tunes, and then another one chiming in to sing one Marley song (fun fact: the man wrote over 200 songs) — joined briefly by two of Marley’s sons and musicians-in-their-own-right Ziggy and Damian. It was fantastic to have actual Marleys on stage, but it wasn’t enough to save this falsely promoted dedication. This was no “tribute.” And, thankfully, I’m not the only one that feels this way.
Since Bob Marley is widely known for his political and protest songs, this got me thinking about cause marketing, and the need for charities to also deliver what they promise. Recently, a friend found a sick stray cat; she tried to do the right thing and contacted local shelters to help. Unbelievably, she had difficulty finding assistance. One shelter was even accusatory – telling her that since she found the cat, it was her “problem.” This is unacceptable to me, especially because these actions fail to deliver on a promise to help animals. It’s anti-mission.
How does a donor know their gift is making a real difference? Or whether the charity they support is delivering on its promise? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. But, there are organizations that independently rate charities based on criteria like financial health, transparency, and mission-related results. Charity Navigator has several Top 10 lists, which is a good place to start. CharityWatch rates organizations with grades A+ to F in its Charity Rating Guide. Even the Better Business Bureau reviews charities. If an organization you support is local, you should visit, sit in on a session or serve in a volunteer capacity, and try to meet beneficiaries. Sometimes charities have events where beneficiaries are guests, so donors have an opportunity to hear success stories first-hand.
If you are a nonprofit, I urge you to be transparent and work with such rating organizations. As a donor, when I look up a charity only to see a “Did Not Disclose” stamp, it makes me wonder why. If these organizations uncover areas for improvement, you can make changes that will better serve your mission. You can prove to donors that you really care by continually improving your effectiveness. And if you score favorably right off the bat, your donors will be happy to know how hard you are working to deliver on your promise.
It’s simple. When you promise something — anything — follow through, execute, deliver. Don’t pull a Grammy.